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Senior Correspondent

The sun is just coming up, so it is still fairly cool. It is a coffee morning. And this is a “good to the last drop” moment. I reach the pasture fence but don't see Secret. She usually eagerly waits for me to fetch her in. Ah! There she is just around the corner of the fence. 

“Secret! Good morning, girl! Come on in,” I call to her. Ah, shoot. She is unhappy about something, as she has taken off down the field. As I open the gate I see the problem. The ground is extremely soggy. Secret hates deep mud. She is such a prissy princess! I must watch my steps and curl my toes tightly or I will lose a boot in the mud. Sure enough, as soon as I clear the mud Secret comes prancing up to me, swishing her tail and tossing her long mane. 

She lowers her head when I ask her to, so it is easy to halter her. Reluctantly, head hanging low, she follows me as I start back through the mud. Suddenly she rushes past me, nearly toppling me over. I guess in this she is like people: If something you don't like is inevitable, get it over as quickly as possible!

Once through the gate we move along briskly. I sing, which is my custom, and Secret's attitude changes. She lifts her head and looks about. I'm eager to ride this morning, but first she needs some sweet feed and a good brushing. She will welcome having her legs and belly washed to get rid of the mud. 

She doesn't know it but this is a big day. A group is gathering for a trail ride and barbecue. After the ride, Secret will move out of the pasture and into a stall. The heavy rains have been hard on her, and the lead mare in the pasture has been inhospitable. Secret is not getting enough to eat, and she has lost significant weight. The stall will be dry and lots warmer. Over the next few days she will see a change in her feed, too, as she'll start getting alfalfa instead of just pasture grass and oat hay. She needs the heartier food to offset the weight loss. 

Washed, brushed, tacked up and ready to ride. The group is about 20 of us. We ride to support St. Jude. It is an annual event. It is unfortunate that it is raining, but we ride anyway. Our path will go near the freeway, which some of the horses don't like, so we will bracket the less stable horses with one on either side that are stable. Secret is never happy near the freeway, so I welcome Magic on one side and Rocket on the other. Of course this changes when we cross water, as Secret doesn't mind the water but Rocket fears it. We will put an extra lead rope on Rocket to cross the creek. 

The fruit stand is closed at this time of year, but it marks a convenient halfway point in our ride. We will go back along the back roads, avoiding the freeway and the creek but meandering through the walnut grove. Even in the off season it smells good. 

All in all it is a good day, a good cause and a good group. The barbecue will top it off marvelously, but the best part, as always, is being with Secret and our many friends. 

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